PORTSMOUTH, OHIO (HNN) – While the Atomic Energy Commission produced video tells of all the construction and benefits of the new plant in Portsmouth, the union workers began complaining about disease — Leukemia, Lung Cancer, Tuberculosis.
Dated February 19, 1957, the president of Local 10-689, C.A. Romine, sent the letter to Thomas Mancuso of the Ohio Department of Health. On behalf of workers at the Goodyear Atomic Corporation Plant at Piketon, Ohio, Romaine stated that one of “our members” died of leukemia. “We have no way of telling whether working conditions contributed to his death.”
Union members suffering from cancer lay in the Dayton Veterans Hospital, Mount Logan State Hospital, and Huntington (WV) Veterans Hospital. He explained their X-rays were “completely clear” a few months before, at the time, though, the man in the Huntington VA was “not given a chance” to survive.
“These are our worst cases. We have many other less severe cases which are not normal,” the letter stated.
Begging the Ohio Department of Health for assistance and an investigation , he told of “frightened” and “discouraged” Goodyear employees quitting their jobs. Besides having a common link of all working at the Atomic Plant, the union president wrote “the GAT refused to accept any responsibility for the plight of each and every one.”
Romine continued his request of “last resort” by adding, “We earnestly urge your Department to look into the radioactivity and the protective measures against “chemicals such as fluorine, chlorine, uranium hexafluoride and others which we handle every day. For more than two years we have struggled through grievances, arbitration , and even a plant-wide “wildcat” strike to get management to “change their policy of no concern for people working in these conditions.”